An amateur football club in Teddington hope to put women’s football at the forefront by setting up a brand new senior women’s side.
Based near Bushy Park, Teddington Athletic Football Club are back training and playing matches following the end of the second national lockdown and are looking to continue growing as the year closes.
With multiple teams for girls under the age of 15, the club are now looking to develop a senior women’s side and are appealing for any women aged 16-35 who are interested to get in touch.
Club secretary David Hall said: “We’ve been approached over the last 16 months or so by women wanting to join an adult side. We’d never really been in the position to offer them anything.
“This season I decided we should have a go at setting one up. Another woman who had just moved back to our area came forward and she was keen to start, so we used that as a starting point.
“We have an adult men’s team already so it felt like the right thing to do.”
In total Teddington Athletic boasts an impressive 45 squads within its club, which includes multiple teams for girls under the age of 16.
Hall said: “The girl’s side of our club is currently the fastest growing part of the club. We often can’t keep up with demand and we’re running things such as under six training clubs. The female side of our club is a really vibrant and exciting part of our future.
“The girl’s development is absolutely key for the future of the club and it is all something we’re really excited about.”
The past few years have seen an improvement in coverage and visibility and attitudes towards women’s football and Hall believes that this has encouraged more women to enter the game, though he believes more progress needs to be made.
He said: “I think the increased coverage of women’s football and the raising of the profile of its players in the media has definitely had a positive effect.
“I think there’s probably still quite a disconnect between the professional game and the amateur game. We get girls coming to our club trying football for the first time, even some of the older girls.
“I’m not sure the professional game is as easy to access as the men’s game. I think it’s definitely having an effect, but the professional game still has a way to go to be as prevalent as the men’s game.
“One of the reasons why I’m personally keen to have an adult women’s team is for little girls to see adult women playing in our kit so they can aspire to be them and be inspired by them, so they might play for us when they’re older.
“We didn’t have that pathway for women. Now we’re trying to change that.”
The impact of Covid-19 on football has affected Teddington Athletic’s plans, but there is hope that a women’s side can be up and running within the next month or two.
There are already plans for seven-a-side matches and friendlies, should a squad be set up.
Hall said: “We’re looking to start in the new year. It’s been a bit of a challenging season to get off the ground but the interest has been pretty strong so far.
“We’re about to start an outreach programme with St. Mary’s University and a couple of the girl’s schools in the area. You only have to be over 16 to play in an adult women’s team so there’s an opportunity for people from there.
“We probably just need a few more people to make a training group viable. We’re confident we’ll have a full team up and running next season.”
More information about Teddington Athletic’s new women’s side can be found here.
Featured image credit: Teddington Athletic Football Club